The aims of this study were to understand the clinical significance of balance training in degenerative cerebellar disease and to analyze inconsistencies among published data.
Five databases were searched from inception to October 8, 2019. Cochrane guidelines informed review methods, and Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines were followed. The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Evidence Hierarchy, PEDro scale, and Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Tools were used to evaluate methodological quality. Outcome measures examined included ataxia severity, gait speed, and balance.
Fourteen articles were identified that met inclusion criteria. The quality of evidence was moderate to high, with recent articles being of higher quality. Nine of 12 articles showed statistical improvements in ataxia severity (reduction ranging from 1.4 to 2.8 in the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia points), three of eight showed statistical improvements in gait speed (average increase of 0.1 m/sec), and six of nine showed improvements in balance measures (average increase of 1.75 in Berg Balance Scale and 1.5 in Dynamic Gait Index).
Most studies showed statistical and clinically significant ataxia severity improvements in subjects who performed balance training. The amount of balance challenge and frequency of training were important factors in determining the extent of training benefit. Gait speed may also improve if walking exercises are included in the balance training, but more studies need to be conducted. Balance measures statistically improved with training, but these improvements did not meet criteria for clinical significance.
To Claim CME Credits
Complete the self-assessment activity and evaluation online at http://www.physiatry.org/JournalCME
Upon completion of this article, the reader should be able to: (1) Describe the cause(s) of discrepancies in the literature regarding the benefits of balance training in degenerative cerebellar disease; (2) Determine if benefits from balance training are clinically meaningful for individuals with cerebellar degeneration; and (3) Understand the best practices gleaned from the current literature regarding balance training for these diseases.
The Association of Academic Physiatrists is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The Association of Academic Physiatrists designates this Journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.